Municipal councillor Ian Paton eager to begin his role as Delta South MLA

He's eager to get going in his new job as MLA.

Delta farmer and municipal councillor Ian Paton, coming off a decisive victory in Tuesday's provincial election to take back Delta South for the Liberals, said he's looking forward to once again having to learn quickly on the job. It's something he had to do when he was elected to Delta council seven years ago.

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Paton, who received 44 per cent of the popular vote, up about eight per cent from what the Liberals had in 2013, believes his experience on council as well as his profile in the community undoubtedly helped convince voters to switch back to the ruling party.

"I'm not old, but I'm not young. I turned 60 in August and I spent my whole life on my farm here, so I know the whole South Delta area like the back of my hand. Then, being on Delta city council for almost seven years now made me totally aware of issues that we have," he said.

"We deal with provincial issues all the time at the municipal level. We're dealing with transportation, traffic issues, we're dealing with water lot leases on the river, we're dealing with coal dust out there on the port, all sorts of different things. I think it's going to be a really good connection that I have at the MLA level with my experience."

As far as what happened provincially with the Liberals currently in a minority government position, Paton isn't sure what to make of what unfolded, including why his friend, Delta North Liberal MLA Scott Hamilton, went down to defeat.

"It's pretty interesting how everything played out. It's sort of rural versus urban in some respects, I guess.

"I'm really shocked about Scott Hamilton. I think he's done a really good job bringing things forward as a representative of the Liberal Party in power to not only North Delta but South Delta. He's been our connection to South Delta as far as I'm concerned, getting things done through the government, so it's a real loss he got knocked off."

The George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project was a much talked about issue during the campaign and the fact the Liberals won all four seats in Richmond should be noted, Paton added.

"I hope it sends a message that you're dealing with a government that has a ton of extremely smart people working behind the scenes that draw up ideas what's going to work best for our infrastructure projects. I think they (Richmond council) have to come to the realization that this isn't about people writing letters to the editor saying, 'You should just twin the tunnel.'These are smart people that have decided after hundreds of community consultation meetings this new bridge is the best option and it's going to work."

Paton said it's too early to predict if the NDP and Greens might get together to halt the bridge project, which is already underway, perhaps triggering another election.

"We've already started and there's all sorts of things happening with this new bridge as far as preparing to move hydro lines over. Even out on Highway 99 by my way they're starting to do work at night to widen Highway 99 halfway to White Rock. So there's a lot of things in action right now," he said. 'I'd be shocked if the NDP teamed up with the Greens and said, 'Let's stop this bridge from happening.'"What would their answer be? Leave it for another 10 years until somebody makes a decision? We've got to get on with this congestion nightmare."

As far as stepping down from his council seat and triggering a municipal by-election, Paton said he still has to talk things over with Mayor Lois Jackson as well as the premier to determine the best course of action.

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